so let's go back to that conference. i've just raised my hand, being a college junior who's just learned how to put a condom on a banana, and asked why the church won't talk about birth control as a way to curb their teens from giving birth.
and my father's just said, christians don't believe in condoms.
now, we all know that's not true. christians totally believe in condoms; we also believe in the rhythm method, vasectomies, and the Pill. but just not for teens. but this wasn't my question. i had asked, if you want to stop pregnancies, why not teach them how not to get pregnant? but this question about pregnancy got conflated into the sex prevention question.
two different questions, people: stopping a particular outcome of sex and stopping sex altogether.
if you want to prevent an outcome of sex, like pregnancy or disease, you must teach how to protect for it. like it or not, a latex barrier is the most practical material barrier against disease and pregnancy.
if you want to stop your kids from having sex (until they're married? good luck) until they're ready to make rational choices about their bodies and their futures, you're going to have to give them alternatives to going out on their own and learning wacky stuff from their friends. (wacky myth #1: you can't get pregnant from anal sex. you can; it's rare, but you can, especially if the dude isn't wearing a condom and backsplash occurs. total. pregnancy.)
one, get over sex. sex is a biological function; our bodies are made for it. there are mechanics involved that you probably haven't thought of in years; well, get to thinkin' cuz you need to think about them with your kids. that means you need to know more about sex than your kids do. get over the language embarrassment. call a blow job a blow job. it's not making love, it's having sex, to them. it's not intercourse, it's sex.
two, solo action is a good thing. it's natural. come on. when i was 11 my mother, a minister's wife, told me to explore my body. thank goodness i did. if i hadn't, i would have been a burnt out, bitter woman. nuff said. (all within a context, of course. you don't want to raise a generation of rabid wankers.)
three, give them consequences. real consequences. not just, this is your penis with the clap. take them to a clinic, take them to a hotline. take them to a single mother's home. make them volunteer in places that show the consequences of some crappy decision making. you want that college dream? think of what college is like for a single mother. you want that cool prom? how about going to prom pregnant or with a hot laser up your butt because of warts? but you have to talk with them about what these consequences are. they think they could handle it. well, experiment. get creative. do that cosby thing. see if they can make those adult-like decisions in a safe way, with you around. and hey, when you're talking with them, you're going to have to listen, too. they'll tell you stuff you won't believe and if you freak out at what so and so pulled with the football team, you've just lost it.
four, give them reasons not to have sex when they're too young to handle it. like, college. like, a life that has a better chance of not being over because you let some smooth talking kid get in your pants. like, a life with a partner that you can truly feel intimate with. treat the complexity of sexual activity with the complexity it deserves.
i think that for most in the church, sex is simple. the marriage bed is undefiled, and all that. but having looked around at the sexual dysfunction that exists within the church itself, it's not that simple at all. if christian parents can't communicate between themselves about sex in a rational and responsible manner, how can they talk to their kids about it? if christian parents still treat sex like it's a naughty subject only to be giggled about in women's retreats, or judged at when the guys get together, basically infantilizing it, then how can you tell your daughter that she's more than a sexual object? (not that later on, like when she's 35, a little objectification can't be hot.) how can you tell your son that a real man is more than how his package swings, or how many babies he can make, if you can't teach him responsibility?
there is nothing wrong with abstinence - if you have the discipline for it. (see how this flies if you called it what it really is: celibacy.) there is something wrong when you think that the way to teach young adults about sex is only through abstinence. because what you're actually teaching them is a lack - the absence of sex. if you want to teach them how to have a life without sex, then go for it. i think that's totally weird and neurotic, but that's just you, i guess. if you want to teach them that sex is a gift (one that should be unwrapped at its proper time), then that takes more than abstinence. that takes communication, care, and trust.